Over the weekend I got in a conversation with someone who started talking about how they regularly remove their Facebook friends. I turned to others to ask if they did the same, and sure enough they admitted to regularly removing friends. Last week I received an email from someone who said they went through and purged hundreds of friends who they no longer talked to. They also said that it was an extremely therapeutic process.
So why did they decide to delete their Facebook friends? Honestly, I couldn’t tell you but I know why I’ve done it, and for me it’s an extremely rare occasion. The removal of friends on Facebook is an extremely personal decision. We each have our own boundaries and know when others have crossed them. For some, not having been in touch with someone for months or years is a sufficient reason for eliminating them from their social graph.
Other times, a dispute results in irreparable damage which is marked with the permanent ending of a Facebook friendship. There are countless ways that relationships are damaged and Facebook frequently serves as an outlet for expressing the emotion felt by the end of that relationship. Removing a friend can provide a feeling of closure and it can also clear up a lot of “junk” from your news feed.
Does the damage of a relationship truly justify removing that individual from our personal social graph though? While we no longer would like to speak with that individual and may no longer want to hear from them, there is no denying that at one point in our lives, a relationship existed. Facebook would like to develop the most accurate image of our real world social graphs, and the elimination of friends damages that image, does it not?
If Facebook wishes to have a complete image of our social graph, they should provide individuals with a personal “penalty box” that we can permanently store those relationships that we no longer wish to remember. One form of a personal penalty box is the “block”. According to Facebook, “If you block someone, they will not be able to find you in a Facebook search, see your profile, or interact with you through Facebook channels (such as Wall posts, Poke, etc.). Any Facebook ties you currently have with a person you block will be broken (for example, friendship connections, Relationship Status, etc.). ”
Broken? While the relationship may have been irreparably damaged, the relationship did exist at some point. Then again, maybe some people just don’t deserve to be part of our personal social graphs. So how do you determine which friends to delete from Facebook? How often do you delete friends on the site?